Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Koles and John Batdorf In Concert at the Simi Vallety Cultural Arts Center Saturday, February 18, 2012

So, normally this blog is about reviewing shows after they happen or CDs after they are released, maybe a music festival overview, that sort of thing. But sometimes events and circumstances are more important than formats! Besides, my readers are few enough that there will hardly be a public outcry that I'm  stepping over lines, and I write what I want here anyways. So today I am taking the time to help promote a show, (and hopefully a whole concert series!) that is VERY dear to my heart. On February 18th, 2012 at 7:00 pm there will be a concert at the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center featuring The Koles with special guest, John Batdorf.

With all the great music we are blessed with the opportunity to see in person here in SoCal, its hard to single out individual shows as extra-special. But the combination of a super-strong co-billing and some special considerations has prompted me to support this show with all the gusto I can muster and with whatever meager influence I might be able to generate.

If you have read the reviews I have posted on this blog, you will notice that the name John Batdorf shows up more than any other name. I have been a fan of John's since the Batdorf and Rodney days in the early 70's, when they were thought of in same light as the earliest releases of folks like The Eagles, America and Jackson Browne. To give you an idea, yesterday an old friend back on the east coast, who I recently became Facebook friends with, saw a post I put up on Facebook about John Batdorf. Her comment was    "as in Batdorf and Rodney? I loved those guys. May be worth a trip to the west coast!" After 4 decades without hearing any of John's new music, she is ready to fly cross country for a chance to hear him now!!!!  I would find that astounding if I didn't relate to it so much!  For me, finding John out here in California and becoming acquainted with his new music has reignited my passions for live music and spurred me to become more involved the SoCal music scene.  Talking about music being "life-changing" may sound a bit over the top to some, but John's music is THAT good. And he is only one half of this co-billing!

Knowing how much I esteem John Batdorf as a musician, you might imagine how I felt a couple of years ago when he told me about this new act he had heard, a singer/songwriter named Arlene Kole who performed with her husband and daughter. He told me that their CD was the BEST new album he had heard in years and that it not only had some great songs but it also just SOUNDED great! Well, if you have heard me describe John's talents as a masterful producer, arranger and engineer of his own albums in addition to his singing,songwriting and guitar-playing, you would understand what this endorsement meant to me! And when I jumped at my earliest opportunity to go see The Koles live and buy their CD, I totally understood John's enthusiasm!

Unfortunately, due mainly to my neglect at times of this blog, I have yet to review The Koles in concert, so I'd like to give you taste of what the experience of seeing them live is like. The first thing that will strike you are the voices!! All five members of the band have amazing voices and four of them take turns at singing lead, though the bulk of the repertoire is fronted by either Arlene or her daughter Skyeler. Their harmonies are amazingly beautiful adornment to some really transcendent soaring lead vocals. Then you will notice the virtuosity on their instruments, not to mention that they swap around instruments on almost every song (they each play more than one instrument with lots of skill). This ability to swap instruments makes an infinite variety of musical coloration possible, providing each song with just the right sound to make it fully effective. The key to the sound of The Koles is husband and father Bill Kole, another wizard of the recording studio and a guy who I swear has never met a musical instrument he couldn't master. In the course of an evening with The Koles, you will hear Bill play guitar, bass, keyboards, mandolin, banjo, drums and Lord knows what else, and he plays all these expertly and with taste. With the recent addition of young virtuoso Wyatt Stone, a child prodigy we heard years ago playing with Rickie Lee Jones and now grown up, the band has even more instrumental variation. Wyatt is a KILLER on guitars, fiddle and keyboards, pedal steel and any other instrument he lays his hands on and he is contributing some surprisingly mature songwriting. And with the always tasteful "Uncle" Jim Rolfe playing spot-on-perfect guitar flavors, as well as taking turns at bass or mandolin, the depth of varied musical sound this band is capable of is virtually limitless. Then, most importantly, there are the songs! With at least four incredibly talented songwriters in the group, the songs also vary greatly stylistically, from angelic ballads to stinging blues wails, from bluegrass rave-ups to indie rockers with stops at all points in between! And I must particularly note how much I love the songs penned by daughter Skyeler Kole, her songs have a unique quirky indie feel that make me think this is where the band might really take off with commercial success!  This "share the spotlight" ethic is a key ingredient in experiencing The Koles live and also, from what I'm told, on the new CD!

Hopefully my words have at least begun to convey how excited I am at the prospect of seeing two of my most favorite acts appearing together and hopefully, maybe, I have transferred a little bit of that excitement to you. But there is another important reason this show is so important to me and again, maybe I can convince you of its importance to YOU.  Arlene Kole is promoting this show herself, in the beautful, intimate and comfortable confines of the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center. For us, this is quite a different setting than we are used to frequenting to hear live indie acoustic music! Usually these sorts of shows happen in someone's living room as a houseconcert or in the basement of church on folding chairs, or out in a field at a festival, or, even worse, in a noisy nightclub where most of the folks ignore the music as they get obnoxiously inebriated. It is quite rare to get to hear this music in a real theatre setting, with comfortable seats, great sightlines, pro sound and lights and a real stage!!! Arlene is trying to show the powers that be in Simi Valley that this music will draw people and she hopes to promote lots more shows of this nature with other indie talent. If this show does well, it can lead to all sorts of other shows in this great venue or others like it!!! So I have given Arlene my FULL support on this, as I think it to be of MAJOR importance to the SoCal music scene. I am BEGGING all my friends, acquaintances and readers to buy tickets NOW and support this show!!  I would also encourage any performers who are without gigs that evening to buy tickets and show up also, you folks have a vested interest in this show's success!!!!

I sincerely hope to see you all there that night!!!!!!!

Here is a link to John Batdorf's website


and to The Koles' website


and to the event Facebook page


and for the Simi Valley Cultural Arts Center to buy tickets and get directions